Mae Geri

Mae Geri

The topic of how to do a good Mae Geri (front kick) came up in my class the other week, so I thought I would share my instruction with everyone on the topic. Every good front kick has four parts to it:

The topic of how to do a good Mae Geri (front kick) came up in my class the other week, so I thought I would share my instruction with everyone on the topic. Every good front kick has four parts to it:

Up
Out
Back
Down

If you skip steps, it will become a weaker kick or you will make yourself vulnerable to a counter attack. While different styles will have different stances to start this technique from, I have yet to encounter a style that does not follow these basic movements. For the purposes of explaining, we will assume that we are standing in zenkutsu dach (front stance) when performing this attack.

Up

The first part of the attach is to bring the back knee up as high as possible towards the chest. The higher the knee is pulled, the easier it is to perform the attack with out getting blocked by the opponents knee. You want to have your knee pointed at your target. One way to practice this part is to have a partner hold a bo (staff) or shinai (kendo sword) out in front of you about thigh high so that you can practice pulling your knee up and making sure your foot is higher than the object they are holding. If this part of the kick is done correctly, it can also be used as a shin block against an opponents kick.

Out

The second step is to thrust your foot out towards the attacker. Some styles I know of practice kicking with the toes of their feet to cause more damage (reduce the area and maintain pressure to cause more pain). I personally think that is an excellent way to break a toe and choose to kick with the ball of my foot by pointing my toes to the ceiling. This is the most important step in terms of successfully inflicting pain. You have to think of the kick like shooting a gun. The Up step is the hammer of the gun coming down on the firing pin. Once it hits the firing pin we move on to the Out step. Here everything in your body has to explode outwards into the kick.

Back

At this point, we pull the foot back to the initial Up position. The knee is pointed at the opponent and is high towards your chest. It is extremely important to pull your kick back fast so that the opponent does not grab your foot and pull you to the ground. If you are kicking and moving forward, you want to pull your foot back to this position before placing it forward. If you kick and then just drop your foot down into the new stances, you are likely to be off balance or have your opponent grab your leg for a take down.

Down

The final step is pretty simple. Place your foot on the ground into zenkutsu.

Mae Geri is a powerful kick, if done correctly. It can also be a crucial way to gain points in an ippon kumite (one point fighting) sparring match. This kick can be done from many stances and works great with the front kick in neko ashi dachi (cat stance). Do you have a different way of teaching front kick?

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Theodore Kruczek is the founder and head writer of the Okinawan Karate-do Institute. He is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Okinawan Shorin-ryu with more than 14 years of experience. This site was created as his way of both teaching his own Karate and learning about others.

Comments (8)

    • I will try to get a video explanation to go with this, because it is very essential. When I do a strong Mae Geri, I can move a heavier person holding a kicking pad backwards. Picture the effects of this on someone fighting me rather than holding my kicking pad.

      One strong kick to the knee or hip could end the fight. It could also cause you to fall on your butt, so practice makes perfect. I don’t like explaining moves with just words, so again, I will work on getting a video explanation of this online.

  1. As promised, the video has been added to the article. I would really appreciate some brutally honest feedback on these. If the videos are well received, I can do more. If they are not, I can save myself a lot of time.

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      I like the videos, but you need to get a boom mic or multi-directional mic so we can hear you better. I’m still working on how to work that into your budget :P

      • Looks like I disabled the dislike button >_>. I definitely agree though. One thing I had considered trying was filming the visuals and then narrating it on my PC (verbally).

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          That could certainly work–I’ve done that before, and I’ve seen it done for other martial arts videos (a Shito-Ryu video on bunkai for Naihanchi Shodan comes to mind).

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    Hikiashi: the common enemy of all junior practitioners. I started telling some of the kids in my classes who can’t (won’t?) remember to return their foot before putting it down that I need to hear the slap of their foot against their supporting leg. It’s not 100% true to form, but it is breaking them of their habit of just dropping their leg to the floor immediately after the apex of the kick. In a years time I’ll just need to break them of the habit of pointing their toes to the floor on the hikiashi :)

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